It was some ‘Invitation to a journey.’ “The Lord is with you … Do not be afraid, Mary.” So began the journey that would change her life and the world, writes Rev Alan Donaldson, General Director of the Baptist Union of Scotland.
A journey of joy and sorrow, of honour and rejection, of pride and embarrassment, a journey from obscurity to notoriety. Yet despite the uncertainty and fear, her response is full of faith: “I am the Lord’s servant … may it be to me as you have said.” Mary accepts the invitation and takes the first steps as she leaves for Elizabeth’s home.
The shepherds were also given an ‘invitation to a journey.’ Invited to leave the hillside and venture into the town. An invitation for outcasts to be welcomed, for the keepers of the sacrificial lambs to see the Lamb of God, for those who facilitated worship to become worshippers.
Finally the Magi are given an ‘invitation to a journey’ guided by a star. An invitation communicated in a way they understood that drew them away from all that was familiar to them and opened up new possibilities for obedience, devotion and generosity in worship.
I pray that those who visit our churches this Christmas will hear, in a way they can understand, the ‘invitation to a journey’ of our Lord who calls us to follow Him. That those familiar with facilitating worship would have a refreshing encounter with Christ through his Spirit. That those who find our services unfamiliar places would be welcomed in and that we, who already call him Lord, might be willing to take the first steps in a fresh response of faith.